Bring a capable camera!
Social media and smartphones allow us to express our lives digitally. Images that are: noisy, grainy, blurry, too dark, too bright, washed out, and boring have plagued all of our Facebook news-feeds. The capabilities of older devices were over extended. Low lighting is a challenge for any device; older devices are simply incapable of handling an indoor shot. If you can, bring the shot outdoors into the natural light, or open up the curtains and turn on some lights.
Improved optics, sensors, and features on our cameras are a big deal! Who cares that the newest Apple iPhone has an f/2.4 aperture? Well, that is a pretty boring way to say that the camera takes a nice big drink of light when you hit the shutter button. More capable technology and features allow us improved chances of getting a better image thoughtlessly.
Life is pretty fast paced, slow down and take your picture on purpose.
Give some thought to framing the photo. Combined movement of the camera operator with movement of the subject equals too much movement for most devices. The outcome will be a blurry and muddy photo. Find a way to stabilize the camera with your stance, lean up against a solid object, find something to set the camera on, or get a tripod. Have you have ever seen a sports photographer moving around while shooting?
Focus in on that eyeball!
When you look at an image of a living creature, the first thing your eye goes to is the eyes. If you are shooting a group, this can be tricky. A good rule to follow is to focus on the eyes of the person closest to the camera.
Don’t be afraid to pull the camera out to take a picture.
This is the biggest reason people get poor photos. They are afraid of what others will think. They jerk the camera up, quickly hit the shutter button, and slip the camera out of sight to remain as discreet as possible. The ability to: frame the photo nicely, slow down to get clarity in a shot, and focus in on anything are paralyzed by fear. Paralysis from fear is something that tends to go away with practice. Focus your thoughts on getting a really great photo of the moment. When I am taking pictures, my focus is on doing service to the photo. When my camera is out, my mind goes into a mode where all I can think about is the results I will get by taking the picture in different ways. The image I want to get is the only priority I have, everything else disappears.